sky high afternoon tea with Roberts bakery

 

Man I hate heights. Really really hate them. I remember walking along the top of a castle wall in Harlech crouched down to ground level because I was scared of swaying and falling off. I remember the time we tried to make it to the top of the TV tower in Rotterdam and I had to hold G’s hand up the stair because the wind was so strong and at the top I plastered myself against the wall to once again, stop myself from falling off. It’s funny because I LOVE a good view point, I love climbing to the top but somehow the moment my mind concocts a way for me to tumble to my death… then the knees turn to jelly and I physically struggle to move or enjoy myself.

So, naturally, when the WeBloggers decided to meet up and experience afternoon tea on a sky high platform suspended by a crane, I happily accepted (poor them right?).

My fear of heights has always been a bit of a running joke amongst friends and family, as most of them have had the pleasure (for them, not me) of experiencing my comical solutions to dealing with my issues. I decided this was a great opportunity for me to spend time with my WeBloggers who I hadn’t seen in yeeeears, to enjoy some good food and drink and to show my friends and family that I could do it.

I arrived on time, bumping into a new blogger friend Kirsten, from the LIFB Issue, where we came off the tram and saw this mysterious sky high dining table in action. Didn’t look that high, what was I so worried about?

 

 

Great. On we went to registration, where we were briefed by some of the Roberts Bakery team, the event organisers. Have you heard of them? I hadn’t and couldn’t believe that considering how much I love bread, I had never seen them in the supermarkets. This was a great opportunity to learn more about the brand, and judging by the way of their brand promotion… I liked what I saw.

 

 

Wristbanded. Boarding pass in hand. Security brief completed. Valuables locked away. Off we went.

It had started to rain so we all gathered close around the table, under the canopy and I just happened to be stood by a corner seat. A second later I was somehow being strapped into said seat, whilst the security chap chirpily pointed out that I had the best seat in the house as I could turn all the way round to enjoy the view.

Yes you heard that right, turn all the way round.

No thanks was the thought that came to my mind, and after asking him to return and re-tighten my harness and tuck my chair closer to the table so I was well and truly wedged in, I waited for all the others to take their place.

All safe, the infamous opening track to Star Wars bellowed around us as we rose gracefully into the air. It was beautiful. Magical. The views as I turned were spectacular and…

It’s lies.

 

 

At the start I was terrified, not even the excitement of having my favourite opening sequence song made me feel better. The wind didn’t help and being on the corner left me feeling very vulnerable. Internalising a whole load of fear and anxiety whilst trying to be a cool-I-can-handle-anything blogger was harder than I thought. But I think I pulled it off 😉

I say it’s lies, but actually it did become the truth. It was quite magical being that high up and surreal to be doing it at a dinner table looking out over Greater Manchester.

 

see I did calm down eventually 🙂

 

Roberts bakery knew exactly how to put us at ease too, by serving up a scrumptiously innovative afternoon tea. Their exploratory had created a range of new flavours and the meal presented to us was created using some of their hot off the press and a number of secret squirrel items…

 

 

As soon as the food landed in front of me I started to relax and enjoy myself. It was so nice catching up with fellow bloggers, Diane, Holly, Kat, Jacinta and Laura. We worked our way through the tiers, Roberts bakery hosts explaining their new creations as we went on, they were so good at making us all comfortable and they kept the tea flowing!

 

 

The marbled red pesto and pink peppercorn was the most unusual one I tried, we enjoyed trying to work out the spices and tastes, sharp pepper flavour definitely was a bit of a talking point. There was even mini loaves with turmeric and ones with cheesy centres!

If I had to pick a favourite there is no question whatsoever that the sticky toffee scone with soft fudge and sticky dates (doesn’t it just SOUND amazing?!?!) was my winner. I could’ve eaten a whole pack and I will most definitely be purchasing some the minute it hits the shelves! (I look out for it all. the. time.)

The sky high afternoon tea was one of the most memorable dining experiences I’ve had to date, and it was so nice to share it with such great company too. The hospitality we received from Etihad and Roberts Bakery was fantastic. Their campaign was tailored around #EmbraceTheNew and they sure had found a way for us all to do just that!

Once back on firm ground we were all quite excitedly chatting about how nice it was to do something different, without having to leave Manchester! I called my fantastic four team hoping to hear words of pride – which there were some, but my plan backfired a little as I was faced predominantly with words of upset for not including them 🙄.

We ended the afternoon with a giant goody bag and Kirsten and I shared a tram ride back to the City as it was back to work for me.

I was a little bit disappointed that none of us were able to get a photo of us actually suspended up there, but as it turns out a friend of Mo’s in Leeds shared a tweet from his friend in Manchester – who managed to take a pic of us up above the Etihad! (credit for this pic goes to @thegingerwig)

 

 

My mum came to stay over the weekend and it was the perfect opportunity to crack open the Roberts bloomer loaf and give it a try. I’m not usually one for seeded bread but this was delicious! We caned the loaf within a few days, it worked perfectly on it’s own or teamed up with Mo’s marvellous masala egg.

 

 

Looking forward to seeing some of the new and exciting flavours on the shelf in the near future and it’s time to hunt for a new experience to challenge myself with…

The sky’s the limit! (right?)

 

 

What’s the most unusual dining experience you’ve ever had?

 

 

*** Thank you to Roberts Bakery and WeBlogNorth for inviting me on this very special afternoon tea. Of course all opinions and photos are my own (unless stated) ***

 

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When the ever so fabulous Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester invite you to the launch of Manchester Science Festival, there’s not a cat in hell’s chance my crew and I are missing out. Actually, regardless of whether it’s a launch night or simply a new exhibition or installation, it doesn’t take much to entice me to this venue.

Over the last few years one of my top blogging conferences, BlogOn, has been held at MOSI ensuring that I am guaranteed at least a couple of visits. If you have not been it’s definitely a destination you need to add to your list of must-see’s – whether you’re a local or a visitor.

But this time – well all my attention could be focused to the subject at hand, and in this instance that subject was that of artificial intelligence.

YES.

How exciting!?!? What an interesting, relevant, futuristic issue to learn about. I was extremely excited to see what they had in store for us and needless to say I was not disappointed…

Robot dancers, electronic sets, I don’t drink beer but there was a robotic arm that was serving it, it was all go when we walked in.

 

 

After settling in, grabbing a couple of drinks and a tasty noodle snack that was very kindly being passed round, it was time to preview the headline act – the robots.

It’s funny, because what I didn’t realise was how far back robots actually date. It’s always seemed like a thought of the future but it’s very much an idea of the past and the present.

The curation of this exhibit is fantastic and the robots themselves are sensational. You can learn about current research… interaction (you have to meet pepper!)… the various uses….

 

 

Now the last thing I want to do is drone on and on about everything I did and saw. I created a mini highlights video at the end of this blog post which gives a glimpse into it, but honestly the best thing to do is get online here and book tickets. If you’re even remotely interested in the technological advances of robots (the ethics of the situation interested me) then this is a great day out for big and little kids.

Also open for preview that night was interactive spider inspired installation known as ‘Tape.’ So stating the obvious, the whole thing is made from tape (what are the chances). Hearing about it all I thought, ok this could be cool and would be interesting to see. What I didn’t gather was the sheer scale of it and I had no idea before the night that we could actually climb INTO it. Yes, you can tap into that spidey-sense and crawl into the tape web to envisage the life of an arachnid.

 

 

Rewinding back to before we made the leap up into tape, we visited the spider activity area upstairs where a specialist had on display a number of creepy crawlies. They were pretty amazing to look at to be honest, definitely worth a trip up the stairs.

 

 

The Science Festival is only on until Sunday 29th October – there’s absolutely loads on and I’d recommend you check out this link here to see what’s happening.

BUT

If you don’t have the chance to make it to any of the festival events, don’t worry because ‘Robots’ is on until April next year 🙂

Robots and science festival aside, MOSI is a great destination point if you’re looking for something to do within the City. Manchester has a fantastic history of innovation and tech creativity and most of it is documented at this museum. The main collection houses parts of the first commercially available computer (the FIRST?!) and some models used by John Dalton to demonstrate his atomic theory.

It’s an inspiring place for everyone and best of all, it’s super entertaining too!

As promised I’ll end this post with my video highlights from last week, and please do let me know what you think if you do decide to go and visit!

 

 

Have you been to MOSI? What’s your favourite museum thats fun and educational? 

 

 

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Do you have a certain holiday style? I used to think that I did, but over the years I’ve realised I’m not so sure. Some of my friends are city break people, some much prefer an all-inclusive do nothing. Most travel bloggers tend to be wanderers, some are itinerary planners… everyone tends to have a style that they love and prefer.

But I don’t think I have that? I love city breaks. I love being a beach bum. I love sight seeing. I love relaxing and soaking in the atmosphere. I love planned trips and I love spontaneous ones. I think my travel style is as varied as my blog style!

Wait there is one thing I’ve realised I do gravitate towards these days, and that is making sure not to create an on the brink of stressful holiday. Over the years Mo and I have realised that sometimes it’s ok not to see everything, not to try and cram everything in and rush from one place to the next. Holidays are supposed to be just that, a holiday – a break to re-charge and enjoy. You can’t do that if you’re rushing around all the time.

This past year has been quite chaotic. From the get go it’s been full on: travelling, working, battling sickness, working some more… but as we head into the last few months of 2017 things have started to calm down (ish) and looking back I realised that Mo and I have hardly had any decent holiday time together!

I thought perhaps winter is the perfect opportunity to find a break for us both to unwind and spend some quality time together.

I found perusing the Inntravel Pinterest board a great start to planning our potential winter break. Inntravel offer ‘slow holidays,’ recommending off the beaten path routes and making sure to provide something for everyone. So where better to look for a winter travel itinerary that helps you explore an area – but in your own time.

 

 

Personally, I believe winter breaks lend themselves perfectly to ‘Slow travel.’ Having grown up in very hot country in the Middle East, experiencing winter is still very much a novelty even now. By winter I mean snow and frost and beautiful wintery scenes – not quite the rain and damp we tend to get here in the UK. I can’t think of anything better than wrapping up warm, wooly hat and gloves and venturing out to explore markets, ice skating, or just playing around in the snow.

My fantastic four group and I went to Oslo a few years ago now in the midst of snowy season and we had an absolute blast – even on days where we just walked around the City and didn’t accomplish anything. Earlier this year I went on my first ever ski trip, a new experience and one I would love to try again.

So what wintery treats have I yet to tick off my bucket list?

 

Northern Lights in Norway

We all fell in love with Oslo, but I always said to Mo that when we return to Norway, I’d like our next trip to be much further up North so we could chase down those magical Northern Lights. Tromso came up on a number of searches as one the best places to witness this phenomenon of Mother Nature and as a destination it has so many other winter activities to offer, such as snow-shoeing, reindeer safaris etc.

 

 

Exploring a magical winter wonderland

I’m sure every (Santa-Claus-believing) child regards lapland as their idea of a magical winter wonderland. For me, its all about the idyllic scenery, snow topped trees and houses, cute old building, tiny cafes serving hot heart warming drinks. I remember stumbling upon a place called Mosern in Austria. I was drawn to it when reading about issues of creating borders and segregating groups of people – as here in Mosern there is a sight called the ‘Freedom bell.’ The bell symbolizes cross bordering peace initiatives and friendships made between the people of the Alpine Area. I remember looking at pictures of the surrounding area and realising it was exactly the magical winter destination of my dreams. And hey, I’ve always wanted to go to Austria 🙂

 

 

Christmas Markets – anywhere in Europe!

Ok so as I’ve said many times as a Muslim, I don’t celebrate Christmas. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get to enjoy the markets! Whether you celebrate Christmas or not the atmosphere is always electric at these outdoor extravaganzas. I’ve never experienced one in Europe, my only gauge are the fabulous set that arrive in Manchester every year. I can only imagine how nice it must be to experience it elsewhere, especially when in ‘holiday’ mode rather than: I-have-a-love-hate-relationship-with-this-Christmas-market-it-is-causing-me-no-end-of-hassle-because-of-traffic-but-I-love-crepes-too-much-stay-away mode.

 

 

As I haven’t personally experienced these destinations, I can’t take credit for any of the pictures above. I have borrowed them from the Inntravel website, as they basically provide experiences that cater to all three of my wishes.

 

I’ve not quite decided what Mo and I are going to do just yet… but I know that I definitely want us to do SOMETHING. And I know a slow travel break is definitely the thing for us, as I learnt the hard way this year that with life moving as fast paced as it seems to do these days, it’s always important to make time to slow it down…

 

What’s your holiday style? Have you tried slow travel?

 

 

 

*** This post was created in collaboration with Inntravel, of course all recommendations and opinions are completely my own. ***

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When I realised this month’s travel link up topic was travel companions I knew I had to get involved. Why? Because mine are the BEST. I know you’re going to argue and say I’m biased… I haven’t tried yours… I’m not being objective… but seriously you can protest as much as you want, the bottom line is you won’t find a group like mine

(ok maybe I’m being far too literal here, please don’t be offended, I’m sure your companions are just fine)

Of course I’m not the type of person to make a sweeping statement and just expect you to roll with me, so let me break this down:

 

1. We’re family!

For most people this can be a pro and a con, but in our case it’s really just a pro. Being family means we can say what we think. We know each other’s habits. We know what makes each other tick, smile, laugh and means we can share clothes and whatever else one of us may have forgotten without feeling guilty.

 

 

2. They taught me how to share

Food that is. I’m quite possessive when it comes to what’s on my plate. I know what I like and I used to begrudge having to sacrifice even a morsel. I’ve started to ease up on the food selfishness and realised not only is food more fun in a group but we can try so much more! (Unless I’ve decided to order tuna toasties, no-one seems that assed about sharing those).

 

 

 

3. We’re a pool of knowledge.

I’m not the sharpest tool in the box, but between us, we genuinely are a pool of knowledge. Travelling with others, you can easily sponge off each other’s random facts, memories, travel tales… I love how much you can learn from travelling with others.

 

 

4. We push each other to try new experiences

Ok so this ones not always a good thing. In fact every time they’ve pushed me into something it’s usually involved heights, resulted in me making a fool of myself and left the rest of them in fits of laughter. But when we’re together, we really do feel like we can give anything a shot (NOT jumping off anything above 10 feet though. No-one can make me do that). Even if I’m dying inside, if my fab four are with me I know it’s going to be ok. Although come to think of it, they did leave me for dead in a ball pool once… hmm….

 

 

5. We make each other laugh. A LOT.

All the time. I love travelling with a group where you can be one hundred percent yourself. When you can explore the world and be silly at the same time. Its funny because there are a lot of people who think I’m quiet, bit boring and keep to myself, but those that know me complain because I’m the complete opposite. When I travel with my F4 I can just be me, in all forms of craziness. It’s GREAT. For me anyway 😉

 

 

We’ve had some epic trips over the years, and nowadays our group is expanding, we’re bringing on new recruits and I feel there are many more fun trips ahead!

Just need to start planning the next one asap now…

 

 

 

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This month the travel linkup topic is . . . travel companions. They could be constant, occasional, animal, crazy or simply left at home. You tell us!
How to link up your post

Just pop your post up over the first week of the month (the 1st – 7th October), add it to the link up widget found on SilverSpoon London, Follow Your Sunshine, Adventures of a London Kiwi or on the blog of our lovely guest host Leona at Wandermust Family.

There are no rules – basically all we ask is that you check out some of the other cool bloggers that are involved in that months travel link up; comments here and there, and tweet a few of the posts. It’s a great way to meet some new travel bloggers and share some blogging love!

The Travel Link Up is open to all bloggers – as long as the post is relevant!

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A few weeks ago, I was invited along with two of my Fantastic Four to try out a pescatarian taste tour at Tampopo in the Trafford Centre.

Whenever we make a trip to the Trafford Centre (TC), there is always a designated collection of restaurants we tend to frequent. The number one spot, tends to be Las Iguanas, followed by the safe bet of Nando’s. Yang Sing slides comfortably into third and then it’s sort of pot luck with some of the others. I’d only ever visited Tampopo once, it wasn’t a personal choice, it was where our friends happened to be eating so I remember playing it super safe and ordering a pad thai and not much else, distracted more by the good company than the good food.

 

 

Being invited to a pescatarian taste tour was going to be a great opportunity to force me into being adventurous, rather than settling for the same old dishes at the same old places at a venue we visit quite regularly (TC is on our doorstep pretty much, so a lot more convenient than making a trip to the city).

Enough of me gassing, I think it’s time we got straight into it…

We arrived early doors, and were escorted to the far end of the restaurant where a few tables had been set for the supper club style evening event. Jo, the deputy manager came over and introduced herself, she was to be our host for the evening. She was bubbly and full of life and explained the elements that had been arranged on our tables and Laxmi took our drinks order to settle us in before the evening got started.

 

 

Drinks: Virgin mojito, virgin pina colada and mango on the rocks. The mojito wasn’t to my taste – purely as I’m not a massive fan of ginger. The mango on the rocks? Delicious. So good, it was mango on the rocks for everyone on round 2. Order it, trust me.

Drinks in hand, prawn crackers arrived as our amuse-bouche and needless to say like every good snack, they got devoured pretty sharpish (G didn’t even give us a chance 😉 ). Whilst the first starter was being prepared, Jo talked us through some of the ingredients placed on the table that we perhaps wouldn’t be familiar with. Asian basil, lemongrass, pickled ginger and mooli (a type of horseradish). Mooli was an interesting introduction, it smelt like feet (genuinely) yet it tasted delicious. I always find it quite difficult to wrap my head around those kind of situations.

 

 

At the start, I was slightly confused by the guide book on our table, but Jo pointed out that Tampopo keep a mini library of them at the back of the restaurant, for customers to help themselves to. Confused? Well, the owner of Tampopo started the chain off right here in Manchester after travelling through Asia, with a mission to bring the flavours back here to the UK. The guide books were just a lovely touch to get us excited and talking about travelling, reminiscing and planning future trips. As a travel obsessive you can imagine how much this pleased me!

 

 

Time for food.

 

Course 1: Coconut prawn & smashed cucumber salad

Thai inspired prawns made with coconut milk and desiccated coconut, great start and it contrasted well with the cucumber salad. Cucumber salad really doesn’t sound like an exciting dish, but this is no ordinary salad. The Asian flavours really stand out here, and theres a spicy kick which turns this green watery vegetable into a real firecracker.

 

 

Course 2: Curry Udon sweet potato

When this dish landed on my plate my eyes nearly popped out of my head. My number one food pet peeve was staring right at me. A floating boiled egg in my curry udon. Oh dear. Jo explained this was no ordinary floating boiled egg. This was a soy soaked specialty that complimented the fried sweet potato hidden amongst the udon noodles.

Ok, today was about being adventurous so I gave it a go. And of course, as expected, it wasn’t half as bad as I had built it up to be in my head. In fact, it was delicious. I’m not a fan of egg in food full stop, but it works. It was good, but I have to say the curry udon itself was amazing! It wasn’t too thick and the fried sweet potato was perfection

 

 

Course 3: Nasi royale prawn, with fried egg on top

So at this point, we were cleaning up dishes left right and centre and we were starting to get full. But we were just about approaching half way so we had to power through. Nasi royale was perfect but the best part of the course was watching Hafs and G have bursts of excitement everytime Jo brought out a new sauce. Especially Ketjap, my sister jumped for joy when the bottle landed, after having lived in Indonesia she explained that this was their equivalent to ketchup and it led to her drifting off into daydreams of all the amazing meals she had experienced.

 

 

Course 4: Green curry veg & hot and sour tofu

I’ve historically never liked tofu, I’ve tried it many times and there’s only ever been one time where I’ve enjoyed it and that was in the airport at Hong Kong (I was also starved at the time). The hot and sour tofu here was delicious, I would order this again. The only problem, the spice was so intense I felt like my head was going to explode. I’m not great with chilli, and this was way above my level of tolerable heat, but I couldn’t stop eating it! I did actually have to push my dish away, one because the spice was becoming crazy intense and two, I was trying my best to leave space to make it to dessert. The green curry was really good, Jo mentioned that if we enjoyed this, the red curry would be right up our street. Unlike other green curries I’ve had, this bowl was balanced, not too spicy and thankfully the cream wasn’t thick and stodgy.

 

 

Course 5: Roti pancake

We died. It was heaven. There was a real nostalgia to this dish – even though we’ve never actually eaten this before. When my sister and I were young, my mum used to make fresh chapattis. Fresh chapattis have a taste like no other, but my mum would make us an extra special treat, the minute the chapatti flew out of the pan she would spread butter on it, butter that seeped in to the pores and then just before it evaporated mum would sprinkle a layer of sugar and roll it up whilst it was still warm. This roti pancake was almost the exact same concept. Except it was laced with cinnamon, the roti was made of puffed layers and effortlessly light. I would return purely for this dish.

 

 

H, G and I couldn’t fault our evening at all. Everything from the service to the food quality was fantastic that night. We enjoyed every part but of course how good a meal is marked on whether you return…

Well the taste tour evening was two weeks ago – and I’ve been back twice since.

TWICE.

And each time I’ve returned I’ve ordered some of the favourites from the taste menu as well as one or two other new dishes – and the new dishes we’ve attempted have been even better would you believe. i.e. sticky chicken wings (minus rice wine).

 

 

And of course, as well as discovering the food quality gets better and better, so does the service. People always raise their eyebrows when I brag about service at blogger events, as they reckon we only get treated well because people may have an idea that we’re there to review. To be honest, I think you can always see through fake-good service, because at the end of the day we’re all human so people can have bad days and people can have good days. But I can assure you out of my three trips in less than three weeks, they were all good days. Not kidding, I could genuinely gush about the service all day.

AND the other amazing thing I’ve noticed – is the staff here don’t just know the menu, they KNOW the menu. As a Muslim, we obviously want to eat dishes that are halal, that don’t contain alcohol etc… they get it. The really understand it. Because even items on the menu that we presume are halal, they are quick to point out if it isn’t and how they can rectify it to suit us. I don’t think I’ve been to a restaurant that has ever been so accommodating on that level.

This evening was all about being transported on the Tampopo taste tour. Travel is a huge part of my life, it’s the essence of my blog, and I’ve often said that there are many different ways to reminisce about trips, and the tastes and smells of local food is one of the strongest.

With everything homemade, the finest ingredients imported and regular menu changes to keep everything current and up to date, Tampopo have ensured that our senses are truly satisfied throughout this journey. From the ambience, the knowledge, the literature, the food… from the simplicity of Japanese, to the complexities of Thai cuisine Jo and the team took us on that all important journey and we’ve been going back to re-visit it ever since.

 

 

*** Thank you to Jo, Laxmi and the whole team at Tampopo for a brilliant evening. The taste tour was complimentary but of course all opinions and photographs are my own and not edited. ***

Fancy trying it for yourself? Follow them on facebook and keep up to date with their taste tour events. 

 

 

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